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St John XXIII Catholic Primary School Inspiring Faith in our Future

Expressive Art and Design

Expressive arts and design covers music, art, design and dance. It’s divided into two aspects. ‘Creating with materials’ focuses on how children use tools, materials and resources to be creative, including such aspects as the techniques they use to paint, how they use construction materials such as bricks and how they use objects as props during role play. ‘Being imaginative and expressive’ is about how children use their imagination in a variety of ways and how they explore the different sounds that musical instruments make, as well as knowing a range of songs and stories.



Give your child different tools to use when they are painting. Brushes, blunt knives, twigs, leaves, cut fruit and vegetables, fingers, hands, toes and feet are all great for creating different effects.


Try mixing eco-glitter or sand in with some paint and see what happens.


Explore what happens when we mix colours or add white or black to a colour


Cardboard construction is a great way of teaching children to plan a design, choose materials, think about ways of joining them, and adapt their plans if things go wrong. Ask your child to build you a model of something that interests them at that time –it could be a train, a dinosaur, a castle or anything else. 


Ask them to draw a picture of what they want their model to look like and think about how they will join everything together. When your child has made their model, ask them whether it turned out how they wanted it to, and if not, why not?


Let your child mix the toys up! Build a castle from the building blocks for their small world characters to live in. Also, let them use furniture and other household items as props (safely of course).



Read, read, read! The more stories your child experiences, the more they will be able to invent their own.



Sing often, even if you’re not in tune! Nursery rhymes are as popular with young children as they ever have been and are a great foundation for a range of learning.


Play with songs, making up your own for everyday situations using well-known tunes. You may be surprised by how quickly your child starts to do the same.


If you dare, challenge your child to make a set of musical instruments using only what they can find in the kitchen (under your supervision, of course). Wooden spoons on pans, whisks in cups, rice in a cup or yoghurt pot – all make great instruments.


Discuss differences in sounds and encourage your child to use interesting words to describe them. Explore how we make loud and soft sounds, high and low sounds.


Tap out a rhythm and ask your child to copy it, then swap.



Children use their imaginations in different ways and at different times but their imaginative play will be based on what they already know. You can stimulate your child’s imagination by telling and retelling stories and then encouraging your child to act out the stories using their toys, construction kits and so on.


Encourage your child to role play situations they have observed in real life. Setting up a pretend shop, restaurant, hairdressers, workshop or classroom are all simply done with items you can find at home. Join in and play along with your child.


Let your child sing and dance – put on a favourite piece of music and sing along. Can your child make up a dance to go with the music? Lose your inhibitions and dance along too! Talk about how different music makes us want to move in different ways.


When sharing a story, think about music that would go well with it, such as twinkly music for a fairy or stomping music for a dinosaur.